When you meet your boss's husband, Harvey, at the office holiday party, then bump into him an hour later over the onion dip, will you remember his name?
Yes, thanks to a nifty protein in your brain called kalirin-7.
Researchers at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine have discovered the brain protein kalirin is critical for helping you learn and remember what you learned.
Previous studies by other researchers found that kalirin levels are reduced in brains of people with diseases like Alzheimer's and schizophrenia. Thus, the discovery of kalirin's role in learning offers new insight into the pathophysiology of these disorders.
"Identifying the key role of this protein in learning and memory makes it a new target for future drug therapy to treat or delay the progression of these diseases," said Peter Penzes, lead author of the study and assistant professor of physiology at the Feinberg School. Penzes studied the brains of laboratory rats which are similar to human brains.
The study will be published November 21 in the journal Neuron.
Kalirin behaves like a personal trainer for your memory. When you learn something new, kalirin bulks up the synaptic spines in your brain -- which resemble tiny, white mushrooms. The spines grow bigger and stronger the more you repeat the lesson. It works the same whether you're learning a new cell phone number, skiing a new double black diamond slope or testing a pumpkin cheesecake recipe.
Synaptic spines are the sites in the brain where neurons (brain cells) talk to each other. "If these sites are bigger, the communication is better," Penzes said. "A synapse is like a volume dial between two cells. If you turn up the volume, communication is better. Kalirin makes the synaptic spines grow."
Kalirin's role in learning and memory help explain why continued intellectual activity and learning delays cognitive decline as people grow older. "It's important to keep learning so your synapses stay healthy," Penzes said.
Marla Paul | EurekAlert!
Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine